We’ve all been there before: running around town on a busy day when we suddenly realize our smartphone battery is about to conk out. Thankfully, a new solar-powered charging station called CityCharge has popped up at Bryant Park, liberating visitors from dead battery dilemmas with the power of the sun. The unit will remain in the park throughout the summer, so check it out if you’re in the park and running low on juice.
Developed and tested over the course of two years in a project collaboration between Bryant Park Corporation, Green Barrel Energy Inc., and Landscape Forms, CityCharge isn’t your run-of-the-mill solar charger. The design concept was engineered to consider the way people naturally use public spaces. Mobility, social interaction and durability were leading design elements inherent in the final execution of the device.
The CityCharge unit is mounted on a set of swivel casters with five swivel wheels for easy movability during park events, programming and maintenance activities. Featuring six charging cables, the station allows people to charge most digital devices on the small blue polycarbonate table while interacting with fellow park-goers. A circular solar panel sits atop the carbon-steel street furniture and can be manually rotated to maximize solar collection. Because it’s made from carbon steel with an electro- and polyester powder-coated finish, inclement weather changes are no match for the CityCharge’s strong protection against rust and UV degradation.
“I wanted to move away from the pizza box aesthetic that is so common in this industry,” said Ignacio Ciocchini, the Industrial Designer behind CityCharge.“The round solar panel solves the problem. It communicates the rotation feature, and it works in partnership with the blue table to connect the product with the sun and the sky, where the energy comes from.”
The response to the devices, which were rolled out last month with two charging stations, has been tremendous. After having nearly 4,500 users within the first month, the project collaborators plan to role out six additional units in the park and expand the device to locations throughout the city.